Indian Wedding in 8 days? We did it !!
Let me begin with what is so different about my wedding blog.
Today, if you think of a wedding, you first think of uncertainties around you.
These are Covid times, frozen number of fifty, many of the stores and people unavailable or scared, most of us not knowing who to go to and whether they will deliver what they promised, hygiene levels and safety precautions at the venue and stores for your outfit trials, no full-fledged service anywhere, total dependence on Instagram to check on their work and many many more issues.
Our first thought: We did not want to compromise on anything and do everything that should be done !!
It all began on Friday, July 24th, 2020.
When our family sat together and decided to go for it!!
Originally the wedding was set for 29th and 30th January 2021 for 900 people. Although in lockdown, we realized that things were unlikely to get better in the near future as far as a wedding celebration is concerned.
On Sunday, the bride's parents came over and we jointly decided on how to best plan the wedding given the constraints and limited period of time. (the couple was planning on moving base)
In my “conditioned” mind, the wedding was a one year program for executing it perfectly. In fact, work-wise also I had mentally decided to only take up what I could give my full attention to. Suddenly from one year to one week needed massive inner conviction that" it is possible", especially without our dear ones and any outside help (from safety issue).
The list was long as I mentally had decided that we were not cutting corners.
The first hurdle was getting the bride’s lengha as per her liking (and budget!)
It is every bride's dream to look like a princess and we were not going to take that dream away from her. It wasn’t easy, to say the least. Stores were closed and in trying outfits, we were breaking our own rules on social distancing. Also, no one really had made any new ones because of lockdown and what was really good naturally came at a price. Finally, the soft peach dream of a lengha with foil work was chosen. (@falgunishanepeacock.in)
It was going to look so good with her warm skin undertones especially with white jadau jewellery and soft green sujnis creating that much needed contrast!
And hey, now we could fix the wedding date! It was going to be Monday, the 3rd of August 2020
Next, it was the groom and his brother's turn to go searching.
In the past, we ((@raydale.in) had showcased our product line together with Mr. Bellani. (@bellani_bespoke ) The first thought that came into our mind was "let's go to him and see". We went to his store in fort area and just found the perfect outfit. The groom picked a beautiful beige colour sherwani with subtle gold and embroidery work for himself.
Being an Image Consultant and a Colour Stylist myself and specializing in colour analysis, I envisaged him wearing his grandfather's gold buttons and green sujnis as his neckpiece that would harmonize perfectly against his skin tones and contrast.
Finally, the right footwear with a great finish was procured to match his outfit. It was a task but finally, we managed it just in the nick of time with an overnight service. (@daponair)
As time was short, each one of us took upon a task for the wedding day. We decided earlier on not to have the wedding in our house and have it outside in a closed venue (rains) with safety (covid) heading the list.
The Venue: We all concluded that Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba was the best place and safest under the circumstances to host it. Since we were already in discussion with them for January 2021function, things fell into place immediately and Gateway and Princess room were blocked. Emails went back and forth and Ms Muriel Fernandes (Catering Sales Executive, Taj Mahal Palace) made the task so much easier with the right arrangements. She organized conference calls with chefs, zoom / digital service representatives, front desk room bookings and also gave us one person contact (Mr Mohit Vichare )for all our needs. This was handled by my husband and her, smoothly and very quickly.
The wedding cards: Beautiful Pine green envelopes with gold writings and light ivory cards with greens all around. Elegance with a class... as was our theme. The cards were printed by a dear friend Sanjana Chatlani (@bombaylettering) and came in on Friday night for the Monday wedding.
The groom and the bride's brother (a fabulous cook himself) shortlisted and chose the menu in discussion with Taj Mahal Executive Sous Chef Surendra. The list was just never-ending and mouth-watering, to say the least.
Bride's father took over the charge of fixing the Pandit (with the assurance of not having covid-19 and willing to wear a mask/shield) buying items from the long list shared to even registering their marriage.
The mandap decor:
The mandap design was shortlisted and I had to find someone to execute it. Our dear friend Nazneen was our go-to person but unfortunately, her godowns were shut and workers had gone away to the village.
Taj Mahal hotel has very strict rules regarding PPE kits, sanitization, no working in the night due to security reasons... plenty of hurdles to cross. At the same time, you want the best of everything and with a minimum of outflow. That in itself at large Indian weddings take a maximum of time with each family member having a different view. In this case, the decor was in my hands alone and I wanted it to be absolutely the best.
From the list shared by the hotel, I contacted Ms. Rachana (@Vivaahweddingdecor) and her response time was just fantastic. Knowing fully well we only had 7 days in hand, most flowers not available and add on to the fact that my son was allergic to most flower smell, was executed perfectly.
Rachana, was an absolute gem. She understood exactly what I wanted, she gave me an approximate budget and we met exactly once for one hour at the venue.
The elegant style theme and colouring chosen (with deep green/ peach/pink/ivory ) by me were in great harmony with the outfits, wedding card and even the garlands! I was told to come in on 3rd morning for a checkup (covid reasons, no entry ) but I am one of the paranoid ones. I felt relief only when she shared the pictures of the setup the night before as promised.
Raonak, having a fantastic team and great reviews online and offline, was shortlisted and finally booked by my daughter in law. (@recall_pictures) He did an amazing job!! Great quality work with absolute safety measures in place. Initially, we thought what can he possibly give different with just 9 of us? But I am so very glad that we went for it. His style and pictures, each had a story to tell.
Before we knew, the 1st day of celebrations was here and officially the wedding-related ceremonies had begun!
1st of August:
Of course, was dedicated to my Goddess Ma Gayatri. Wearing a golden patola saree, I was ready to perform the havan.
All of us sat around the havan kund and with the help and blessings of my aunt Mrs Shreya Dalal on Whatsapp call, havan was performed with offerings of kheer as the prasad.
Meanwhile (phoolwala ) Mohanbhai came with bags full of flowers and decorated the gates and front door with rangoli on the floor. I had to think about virus, spray of diluted sodium hydrochlorite, and which flowers to use that will last for 4 days. (didn’t want them coming again in lockdown building).
We decided on orange and yellow marigolds, the traditional Indian flowers and I must say they looked beautiful, festive and fresh till we removed them on the 5th day.
Not having the experience, I took guidance from our Panditji. I also consulted my sister- in-law Sonali, who is an expert in wedding-related matters since she is an event manager herself hailing from Ahmedabad (@fouraces)
I was the official presswala (steam ironing ) in the house earlier in the day and all the outfits were ready and rearing to go.
2nd of August:
Ganesh Stapna: As per the mahurat, at 9 am we did the Ganesh Sthapna, put the wedding card in our home temple( got 11 printed for shukan), did puja of the shrifal that my son carried ( on day of the wedding) and did puja of the Manek Stambh.
Haldi & Mehndi : At 10.30 am, the bride and the family walked into our home for the ceremony. Most of us were wearing shades of yellow. We had lit up the inside of the house with flameless diyas(@ amazon.in) and a couple of flower lines spread on the floor.
( sprayed earlier) Brunch was all homemade favourites in silverware ending with yummy chocolate mousse cake my son's friend so sweetly made and sent. (@rheabawa.)
We were all very clear that outside food/catering was a big NO.
Haldi was made earlier with vicco turmeric and pure saffron sitting in my fridge! I must say we all enjoyed applying on them, both looking happy and cheerful!!
Now it was the "Mehndi time".
Sitting across an outsider for 5-6 hours meant mostly inviting trouble. So the order was placed (@amazon.in) since all stores were closed and the cones arrived in time. Bride of course managed to put it herself and the rest of us all decided to put
#aditigoestodalalst. (our official hashtag)
No Indian function is complete till the house is not alive with diyas, flowers and mehndi songs and dance.
Raunak (photographer) came with his 2 colleagues. They were very professional and concerned for safety. They had the mask and the shield on throughout the one hour they were there and took long shots. Their bags and kits were parked outside our house as a precaution with their footwear!
3rd of August:
The D day was here.
The phoolwala came in the morning to decorate the car with some flowers and pink net. (My heartbreaks to see Mumbai without any life on the road!)
We left around 10.30 am for the Taj Mahal hotel.
Let me tell you a little about our plans for that day. We were 9 of us who were going to attend the function. Only the bride and groom's family. There were lots of debates and discussions (No Masks being condition number 1) before we finally concluded.
Lunch was an elaborate buffet which was manned by the waiting staff and supervised by Mr. Mohit Vichare. It was raining cats and dogs that day. We could see it all...the rough sea, the breeze and storm-like weather! And here we were enjoying the Indian style lunch buffet from starters.. to pumpkin soup...to the main course and desserts.
It was soon time to get ready and come down for the family pictures and to supervise the Pandits.
The bride looked just gorgeous and resplendent!! Thanks to Shradha (@dollyouup) everything from her hair to the makeup was just perfect and on time too.
Coming out from Gateway room after lunch, suddenly there was a big pause. Then came the anxiety and a bit of chaos. The groom had forgotten his sherwani at home!!! The smooth sailing so far had come to an abrupt halt. Debates about who left it behind started and time was short. The bride was ready not knowing what was happening downstairs! Well, there was little choice in the matter but to run home. The younger brother had to drive home to get it! I was more worried about his speeding and getting caught by the police.
Meanwhile, the groom was really cool and willing to get married in his yellow Nehru Jacket and white Kurta he was wearing but we were definitely not... Soon, the sherwani was here and the groom was ready in a jiffy. The effort taken to run home was worth every penny. His beige sherwani having well-defined cuts, adorned with the gold buttons (of his grandfather) and the green necklace, all befitting a prince.
It was showtime...
The Gateway room had never looked better. The greens(fresh) on the mandap pillars, the Tuberose (Rajnigandha, a mix of fresh and artificial)flowers as a backdrop, the beautiful antique chandelier set in the middle of the mandap ceiling and those pink-peach drop like flowers just made the mandap look just perfect.....just as I had envisioned.
The sofas laid out on both sides for us to sit, the tables with green tie backs, the center arrangement of pink and white flowers, the buffet tables laid out near the windows... It was all colour coordinated and perfectly placed.
So it all began...
with the bride and groom starting the Ganesh puja.
In a larger setup, smaller ceremonies are done on the side but we had one mandap for everything. Soon, zoom live streaming began for our near and dear ones.
My younger son was in charge of music which was recorded (with lots of help) and ready. When you really do not have anyone even to play your songs and juggling between various duties, plus not really familiar with wedding ceremonies, it was tough but was managed well most of the time.
Once the puja was done, we (groom side) all went out and reentered like the dulha with his four baraties. We danced to Hindi songs like in the baraat (water bottles with vodka missing) and the bride and family joined in the dances. Bride's parents and brother welcomed us with the traditional aarti and tikka and we were soon on stage for the jaimala.
It was the bride’s entry time. She entered with her father by her side, laughing away while both the brothers (bride and groom's) carried a chaddar of flowers over her head playing her favourite song. (Dil shagna da...)
One by one the ceremonies were performed. It was easy, smooth and we enjoyed every moment. Soon it was tea time.
High tea was around 5 pm. It was served individually in little gold charlies. More than ten one bite portions of Baklava, avocado pate stuffed prunes, pesto artichoke, baked vadapav and so many more....were simply
Wedding ceremonies finished around 6.30 pm with the bride and groom saying thank you and goodbye to the family and friends watching on zoom live. (@recall_pictures)
It was time to celebrate!
We moved to the Princess room where the long 20 feet sit down table with beautiful flower arrangement in choicest of the pinks and candles awaited us. On one side was a huge screen put up for the surprise to come!
The self-service bar was open with pre-chosen soft drinks. We began with the groom popping the champagne (nonalcoholic variety) and pouring into flute glasses.
Soon, family pictures were taken in the princess room and we all relaxed and happy that the day had gone by so beautifully and smoothly.
Two-tier cake (made of dark chocolate with white chocolate coating )was brought into the room and we all “ohh” and “ahhha” before the groom and bride cut into it. It was delectable and of perfect consistency for finger licking! The credit goes to Chef Prashant for making this mind-blowing cake. (which we hogged for the next two days..)
Everyone helped themselves to their choice of drinks and munched on individually portioned appetizers of paneer, mini pizzalets, cigara boregi and many more.
It was time for the speeches. Hear, hear...It started with some on the screen from friends all over the world, then by the groom, his brother, bride and groom's father...it all followed one after the other.
Loads of love, emotions, happiness, surprise and best wishes poured from everyone all over on the big screen. The close family who we missed sent us the groom's life journey in an album whereas the grandmother and uncles and nieces danced away to glory! All of them celebrated happiness in their own way in their own homes together at the same time.
We all sat down for our main course to begin.
It was a specially crafted Oriental and continental Dinner Menu. It started with Bouche , Asparagus Crostini to dimsums, and some sorbet before we moved on to the ravioli.....ending with desserts and chocolates.
Hats off to Executive Sous Chef Surendra Khambra and his team for making every effort (and successfully I must say) for the scrumptious food we had all day long.
At every Indian wedding, food is always the main deal maker or breaker...Each course was presented just perfectly, keeping social distancing in mind. The service was impeccable and the day ended with all of us dancing to Hindi numbers before retiring to our rooms in the old palace wing for the night.
I was in my element. It just struck me that I was going home with my third child!!!! I was eagerly waiting for the next day when I would be receiving them both home for the first time as a married couple. Today, with God’s grace everything went off beautifully and I thought I must share this experience with all others who are like us, ready and willing!
The most important thing I have learned and want to share is that a huge build-up and hype are created around the timeline and preparations needed to make the wedding a success and a fabulous memory in times to come.
Many would disagree with my way of thinking and say that it is not so for a larger number of invitees. (500 plus) Yes, agreed but that is only as far as the venue is concerned or your socializing on that particular day is concerned. Earlier preparations- your pandit, decor, menu, outfits, wedding cards, ...it all remains unchanged. Also, remember you have many more people to help too.
Now that I have experienced it, I would say that one month of time is more than sufficient for a larger (50 to 100 for sure) wedding to be a success, especially in these times.
It all begins with “perfect planning and ends with “perfect execution”.